It should come as no surprise that I love the history of a small town, especially if that town has something to do with Nebraska. I have a fondness for my home state, and especially for another, slower way of life. Recently, my mom called to tell me a story about a flour mill close to home that is still in operation, but rumor had it was looking for a buyer. I, for a split second, gave in to the daydream of being a small town business owner. But, alas, it would never work, so I bring you the story instead.
My mom is very supportive of my 4(for) green acres movement. When I posted the March challenge about food origin and my desire to grind my own flour she did a little research on the mills. She travels a seven county area for her job and is always coming across a part of living history on her travels.
Bert Maxfield opened the Wauneta Roller Mills in Wauneta, Nebraska in 1925 and started milling wheat from local farmers to sell as flour in 48 pound cotton sacks. For a bit of history, the cotton was then typically used by the women to make aprons, dresses, and skirts. At the peak, there were 300 mills in operation across the state. Times changed, and that meant shutting the doors for most of the other mills. Maxfield and his family weathered the economy and offered a variety of sizes in cotton and paper bags.
Over time Bert's decedents, Raymond Maxfield, 92; Jean Maxfield Maris, 86; Dorthy Maxfield Dudek, 82; and Jim Maxfield, 69 kept the mill in operation and in the last few years has expanded into the feed business. Specialty blended feed for cattle, pigs, chickens, and other animals is also produced at the mills. There are no computers, which means all of the calculations are done by hand, and to a science.
While flour is still the leading seller, specialty feeds have given the Maxfield family flexibility to stay in business. Now registered as a historic landmark, the family has gotten older and the rumor was put to rest. The Maxfield family has indeed sold the mills. According to my mother's interview the new owners are also a father/son pair and doing well. Oh, and they sell the flour in her grocery store in town.
I thought that was going to be the end of the story. That is until I received a box in the mail. Much to my surprise it was a 10lb. bag of flour. To say it made my day was an understatement. I realized I now have a source for flour straight from the wheat fields in Nebraska. Chances are, I may know a few of the farmers. It doesn't get any better than this.
When purchasing, you have a choice of bleached or unbleached flour. A choice of paper or cotton sack, and a variety of sizes. They have a lab in house where they test the wheat that comes in from the fields. The wheat they use is high in protein, which is apparently good for baking. I intend to find out next time I bake bread.
I'm very excited about the yellow gingham pattern and I think it may look great on the cover of a garden journal.
Upon doing a little research myself, I found out you can purchase it over the internet and they will ship it to you via UPS. While I'm certain the office in Wauneta still does not have a computer, a local Colorado company buys the product wholesale and will then ship it to you. This is a much easier process than growing and grinding wheat myself. Better yet, I can always pick it up when I'm home!